Archive for June, 2011

My Conversion

I am just an average guy.  I love the Lord and I want to know Him better.  And I want  to please Him.  I do not claim any “special” privilege or wisdom.  But I have walked with the Lord for close to 30 years.  During that time I have experienced times of wonderful intimacy with our Father as well as times of chastening and correction.  As I have shared some already, I have seen God move directly in my life and the life of my family in miraculous ways.  And there have been times when I have “felt” a dryness within me that others have refered to as “the dark night of the soul”.  Through all of this I know that God has entered into my life, He radically changed me at a specific day, time, and place.  He made a promise to me that day that I know He has never, and will never, break.

I was attending a Cursillo weekend.  It is a short-course in Christianity that is actually a renewal movement in several mainline denominations.  After hearing several excellent talks building a clear picture of what the faith life really looks like, I was recognizing a discrepancy between where I was and this life that the speakers were talking about.  On Saturday afternoon I found myself in the little chapel all by myself… well I walked in without noticing any other people, but I was not alone.  As I knealt down and began talking to the Lord I became aware that He was there with me.  In fact I had a strong sense that he was seated in the pew right behind me.  I found myself kneeling with my hands held out, palms upwards when the Lord spoke.  He said, “Dan here is your life and everything that you call yours.”  And when He said that I visualized all of the things that were important to me piling up in the left hand – my family, my job, my car, my reputation, etc.  After just a few moments I had a pretty big list of things piled up in my left hand.  And then He said, “And this is this the life that I offer you.”  And I looked at my right hand and it was empty.  He said, “I promise you one thing, I will never leave you or forsake you.”  And that was it.

I sat there for a few moments weighing the two options.  I knew that I was being asked to make a choice to put God first in my life, to make Him Lord of my life.  It was a forever decision too.  Of that I was sure.  I had been in church all my life and I was happy to recognize Jesus as my saviour, but I had never given Him my life. 

Well I made that decision – I said yes Lord I want the life You have for me.  And I looked at my left hand and I consciously went through the process of forsaking each and every one of the things that had identified me, that gave me happiness.  Later I read where Paul says “I count it all as loss, in light of knowing my Lord, Jesus Christ”.  That’s what I did.

I wanted to share my conversion with you for a couple of reasons.  First, if there is anyone reading this that does not have a relationship with God, I want to let you know that He loves you and He wants to fill your life.  The process is actually simple, but profound.  God is holy and perfect.  We are not.  Every person has sinned, including ourselves and this sin separates us from God.  To have this relationship with God something has to be done about the sin that is in the way.  God Himself did the something that was needed.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to stand in our place and take the punishment of sin that was required for it to be removed.  The bible says that an amazing exchange takes place as Jesus became sin in our place, so that we could put on His righteousness.  But it requires us to act.  We acknowledge our sin and repent of it.  That means we turn away from it with the firm intent to walk away from sin.  And then we ask Jesus to save us and be our Lord.  The bible says that if we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, then we shall be saved.   This is the door into true life.

If you are contemplating this, please pray for God to help and guide you.  I know that He will.  It is His utmost desire because He loves you.  Get a bible and begin reading.  Start with the gospels.  Many find the gospel of John to be an excellent starting point.  And perhaps most important find a body of believers to join.  Since you are online, I can recommend as one source of connection is the church I attend.  It’s called Newspring and it can be found at Newspring.cc.  Also please post a comment to me if you have read this and came to saving faith, found it interesting, or even if you have a question.

The second reason I shared the testimony of my conversion was to set in context the next several postings where I share things I have learned over the past several days and weeks.

My time for this morning has run out.  Be blessed today and be a blessing.

Read Full Post »

I had never really thought about it too much, but as I was speaking with a wonderful brother yesterday, he asked me exactly how God spoke to me.  I had related the following story to him.

When we moved to Tennessee we owned a house in Louisiana that we had purchased 4 years earlier.  The economy in Louisiana was in a decline when we moved and houses were not selling.  We had no money to purchase a home with until our house in Louisiana sold.

We looked at houses in Tennessee on our first visit to the area in January.  The realtor had our list of “needs”, our list of “wants”, and the price we could afford when our house in Louisiana sold.  He showed us 20+ homes that first visit focusing upon our needs and the price range we gave him.  None of the houses enticed us.  At the end of the day he took us to a house that had our needs and wants, but it was listed for twice the price we thought we could afford.  As we left the home that day I asked Max, the realtor, “Do you think $*** could buy this home?”  To which he replied, “That will never touch this house.”

Well I took the job and we moved, with my wife 7 months pregnant.  (Guys, my wife was very good about it, but I don’t recommend that as a general rule.)  We ended up in a two bedroom apartment with our 2 children and the 3rd soon to arrive.  We continued to look for a house and praying for our house in La to sell so we could actually consider buying a real home.

Child #3, Christin, arrived in early May and now there were 5 of us in a two bedroom apartment.  In our search we continued to focus upon our needs and the price range we could afford.  However we were drawn to the house that we couldn’t afford that met the list of needs and wants.  (I just want to point out the wants were not extravagant… I wanted a basement and Lisa wanted 4 bedrooms.)

On a Saturday in mid June we were driving around town with my parents showing them the few homes we were considering AND the home we liked but could not afford.  As we parked in the driveway of the home we liked another car pulled in behind us.  It turned out they were the co-builders of the home as well as neighbors.  We visited with them and they took us through the house.  We were so engaged in the conversation with them as we exited that it wasn’t until we got to the cars that we realized Christin was inside the house asleep in the living room.  We never discussed any business aspects of a purchase and while we liked Steve and Nancy, there was nothing to make us think we were closer to the purchase of the home until our house sold in Louisiana.

That Sunday night, or more precisely at 2:22 am Monday morning, I woke straight up with a clear sense of the Lord’s prompting.  My first thought was that God wanted me to pray for someone or something so I rolled out of bed onto my knees.  As I waited a few moments for the Lord to lay someone on my heart, it was quiet and nothing came to my mind.  So I prayed, “What is is Lord?”  To which the Lord spoke very clearly to my heart, “Dan, I am going to have you say special things to special people.  And to prove that I am going to take care of your house today!”  I said thank you Lord, waited a few more moments and then climbed into bed where I slept well until I got up quite joyfully the next morning.

As I brought Lisa her coffee in bed, I told her exactly what had happened and exactly what the Lord had said.  I remember her response, “So the Lord is going to take care of our house this week?”  “No Honey, He said He was going to take care of our house TODAY!”  I left for work fully expecting our realtor in Louisiana to call and say the house had sold.

About mid-morning Helen tracked me down and said Dan, you need to call your realtor.  I grinned and said, “I knew you were going to tell me that today.  Did Jimmy (our realtor in LA) leave his number?”  She told me not Jimmy, but Max, the TN realtor.  I remember thinking, I wonder what Max wants.  Maybe Jimmy called Max and a deal is going to work through Max.

I called Max and his first words were, “Boy, you’ve really done it.  Who have you been talking to?”  Well I was totally thrown off.  I thought we had done something wrong by the question and tone he used.  I asked what he meant and was something wrong.  He said “No, nothing is wrong.  Did you talk with anyone this weekend?”  Well the lights started to come on, “Yeah, we went by that house we like and we met the people that built it.  Is there a problem?”

“There is no problem.  All I’ve got to say is that you must have friends in some pretty high places.  Those people want you in that house!”  We made an offer that morning and by the end of the week we had a contract on the house at the price Max said wouldn’t touch the house.  On top of that they offered to let us rent until either our house sold or my company’s relocation package began helping pay the interest portion of the house in LA.  As I have said before we couldn’t buy a home until we had resolution to the house in LA.  (It was 4 years before it finally sold by the way.)

God had spoken and what He said He backed up in a very real and tangible way.  Now I want to analyze this a little to get at a few points that make up my understanding of how God speaks or perhaps more accurately how we hear or understand God.

First of all, the bible is full of instances where God speaks or directs people.  The vast majority are people who are “His” people: Abraham, Moses, the prophets, the apostles, the new testament prophets such as Agabus, etc.  (Balaam I would put in the category of God speaking to, but not necessarily in the same category as children of God.)  There is nothing in scripture that indicates that God would stop speaking or directing His people.  Therefore, I see no reason not to believe that He still does.

Now there are numbers of people today who claim to “hear from God”.  Unfortunately some we hear about are making pronouncements that do not square with scripture.  That is one of the key characteristics that I believe the Lord has impressed upon me, God cannot lie and He cannot sin.  Therefore if we hear a voice telling us something that is counter to scripture, we question the voice because the scripture is God’s will revealed.

My friend Phil asked does God speak in an audible voice.  While I believe He can, my experience has not been an audible voice, but it was very clear and distinct words.  As my story above demonstrates it can be specific directions with exact, verifable information.  In my experience, this type of specificity is a bit more of the exception.  The norm is a sense of peace as I am contemplating an action or decision that affirms “this is the way, walk in it” and a lack of peace when considering other options.  I will give examples of this in a later post.

Saying this is not an audible voice doesn’t rule out some important aspects of what it is like when God speaks.  First off, there are times when it carries significant emotion… love, empathy, urgency, these have all been associated with things the Lord has spoken to my heart.

Sadly, I have to admit that God’s speaking does not always mean that I have obeyed.  I understand that God speaking is through His Holy Spirit who indwells the believer at conversion.  The Holy Spirit prompted me to stay and talk with an instructor after a training session one time years ago.  On the first day of the week long class, Sid had given us an exercise to draw a lifeline.  I had drawn mine with a step change which I explained as being my conversion experience.  Sid kind of used that as a point of “poking fun” at me for the rest of the session.  On Wednesday he wrapped up class 30 minutes early and asked us all to stay for drinks and discussion.  The Holy Spirit very clearly let me know to stay and talk with Sid.  But I rationalized that I didn’t drink alcohol and I had a project going on at home and so I did not stay.  The next day Sid let us know at lunch that he wasn’t feeling well and that he was going to the emergency room to get checked out.  That night Sid died.  This happened about a year after we moved into the new home that God had miraculously provided.  And I had failed to remember the first part of what God spoke that night… “Dan, I am going to have you say special things to special people…” I grieved the Holy Spirit that day.  I have confessed and repented of this, but as with any sin there were consequences suffered.

I don’t always get it right, but I know that God has covered my sins and failures with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus.  I missed it with Sid, but I am trying to be obedient and listen to what the Lord says.  Sometimes He will speak in a manner that is riveting.  Sometimes it is a gentle nudge.  Sometimes it is through scripture that ignites within me.  Almost always His voice is accompanied with His peace.

I have to end for today, but I will visit this topic more since I feel a burden to share reasons we may struggle to hear His voice.  Please let me know if you read this.  I would be happy to engage in a conversation.  I am a sojourner as you are.  Traveling with others is much more enjoyable than walking alone.

Read Full Post »